SOCIAL AND POLITICAL LIFE 187
primitive simplicity. In this atmosphere emerged favour, and
in this atmosphere emerged that most beautiful of ancient
Chinese characteristics, gratitude, the counterpart of favour.
Of this gratitude, the common people of China, especially the
agricultural population, have still a large "bellyful." A farmer
who has been recipient of an act of favour remembers it for
life and will probably worship you for life in the form of an
inscribed wooden tablet in his private household, or serve you
loyally "through fire and water." True, the people are left'
without constitutional protection at the mercy of the district
magistrate. But if the magistrate is kind, kindness is all the
more keenly appreciated because it is something gratuitous.
There have been thousands of cases in which the village people
surrounded the departing magistrate's sedan-chair, kneeling
on the ground with tears of gratitude in their eyes. This is the
best demonstration of Chinese gratitude, and of Chinese
official favour. For the people know it as favour and not as
In such an atmosphere originated favour, which came from
a personal relationship between the man in power and the
man in need of protection. It can, however, take the place of
justice, and it often does so. When a Chinese is arrested,
perhaps wrongly, the natural tendency of his relatives is not to
seek legal protection and fight it out in a law court, but to find
someone who knows the magistrate personally and intercede
for his "favour.59 With the high regard for personal relation-
ships and the importance attached to "face" in China, the
man who intercedes is always successful if his "face" is "big"
enough. It is always easy, and infinitely less costly than a
protracted lawsuit. In this way, a social inequality arises
between the powerful, the rich and the well-connected, and
the poor who are not so fortunately circumstanced.
Some years ago there occurred in Anhui the arrest and im-
prisonment of two college professors for the ludicrously in-
significant offence of some incautious remarks, and the relatives
had no better way than to go to the provincial capital and
plead with the military chief of the province for "favour."
On the other hand, certain young men in the same province,
connected with a powerful political party, were arrested in